A 42% DROP in pre-tax profits at Thistle Hotels last year was almost entirely due to the sale of 34 hotels at well below their book value, the group said last week.
If the exceptional loss due to the sale of the properties is stripped out of the figures, the annual results show a pre-tax rise of 9% to £86.6m in underlying profits for 1998, and a 4.6% increase in turnover to £296.7m.
Chief executive Ian Burke was upbeat about 1999. "It's early days, but we are seeing modest like-for-like growth in the first eight weeks," he said. He added that this was a relief, as trading had been "difficult" in the last quarter of 1998.
The results show an overall fall of 42% in pre-tax profits. But the group said this was attributable to a number of "exceptionals", or factors which appear as a loss on paper. These include the sale of 34 regional hotels at below their "book" value.
The profit was driven by a 6% rise in average room rates to £68.87 from £64.88, which was offset by a 0.4% fall in occupancy to 71.9%.